4 Engaging with the science community |
95. We wanted to know how well the science community
provided the means for teachers to enhance and enrich the science
they taught with opportunities to experience real science and
to see the interesting things that science might lead them to
in later life.
96. In evidence to the inquiry we have received notice
of a plethora of resources, often produced independently by the
science community, to support science in schools and to provide
enhancement and enrichment opportunities.
Paul Cohen of the Training and Development Agency told us that:
In preparing for this session, I was rather overwhelmed
by the number of different organisations and websites that are
available. I am not in a position to say whether that is confusing
for teachers, but clearly it is a bit of a challenge to navigate
if you are not an expert, I would have thought.
Beth Gardner of the Council for Learning Outside
the Classroom told us that:
We are trying to have a coherent offer by the whole
sector, because schools have told us that things are quite disparate
out there, they are being approached by all sorts of different
people and it is confusing.
97. Written submissions to the inquiry mentioned
or promoted resources or events that individual organisations
offered to teachers and schools. We see a real danger that there
could be too many choices and not enough guidance on what may
be of particular use to teachers, possibly leading to teachers
seeing enrichment and enhancement activities as too time consuming
to evaluate or utilise properly.
98. Sir Roland Jackson, Chief Executive of the British
Science Association, accepted that organisations like his Association,
"who feel very passionately about particular areas of science"
and want to make opportunities available to young people, could
nevertheless result in confusion. He indicated, however, there
was a recognition among such organisations that there had to be
more coherence on provision.
Sir Roland cited the STEM Directories as an example of a project
to create greater coherence among providers of enhancement and
enrichment activity. He considered that co-ordination of resources
was the science community's responsibility and did not think that
"anyone can do it for us".
99. We are surprised that not one of the written
submissions to the inquiry mentioned the STEM Directories in any
detail and only the Department mentioned them in passing. Not
even the Royal Institution, which has been responsible for producing
and delivering the Directories, first in hard copy and in recent
years as a website, cited the Directories to us as a useful tool
for the dissemination of information. The Directories would appear
to be an ideal central point for teachers to consult when considering
what activities might be suitable for any particular group of
students. In supplementary evidence requested from the Royal Institution,
The Directories contain information about all the
national and regional STEM [Enhancement & Enrichment] schemes,
but not those at the local level. Also, one of the criteria in
setting up the Directories was that there should be a 'warm body'
at the end, i.e. online resources with no human contact were not
included. We are fairly certain that nearly all [Enhancement &
Enrichment] providers are included in the Directories. [...] The
Ri believes that the Directories are an essential resource for
the science teaching community, and it would be a great pity if
funding could not be found to ensure that they have an increased
profile in schools, are regularly kept up-to-date and are continually
developed in response to teacher feedback.
100. The Royal Institution has required some evaluation
of all opportunities to be carried out and presented on the Directories
website to allow teachers to get a better idea of the education
We consider the STEM Directories to be exactly the resource that
the Government needs to encourage. The Royal Institution has told
us, however, that after the initial three year contract, the Government
has only extended the contract for one year.
101. The Government
should seek to secure the long term future of the STEM Directories
as a tool to encourage good quality enhancement and enrichment
activity, reduce gaps in provision and facilitate more providers
and schools to participate. The relatively small amount of money
involved should be found directly by Government or by encouraging
sponsorship within the science community and providers of enhancement
and enrichment activities.
102. We have been told that the science community
is keen to organise itself as far as communicating opportunities
to educational establishments are concerned. We
recommend that science organisations build on the STEM Directories
and the similar Getting Practical website
as useful starting points in providing gateways through which
teachers might more easily engage with enrichment and enhancement
151 Enhancement and enrichment activities is the catch-all
term to cover the variety of provisions made by science organisations
for field trips and fieldwork for schoolchildren Back
Q 52 Back
Q 87 Back
Q 88 Back
As above Back
Ev w34-35 Back
Ev w34 Back
Ev w35 Back
The STEM Directories,
Getting Practical website,